Posted in self-defense

Stepping Along a Path of Contention: Further Musings on Self-Defense and the Key Issue that Drives the Debate–The Taking of Another’s Life

Thou shall not kill” (Exod 20:13; KJV).

In the letters the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and eliminate the entire army of people or province which was going to attack them…” (Esther 8:11; NASB).1

INTRODUCTION:

For years, we have been conditioned to think that religion and politics are separate issues. People on both sides of the aisle get nervous, aggravated, and, sometimes, downright disgusted that you dare try to mingle the two supposedly unrelated subjects. In the past, I have found this amusing. There is nothing wrong with being ignorant—to lack knowledge in a given subject. We all fall in that category somewhere along the intellectual line. But it is absolutely disheartening when one refuses to listen, preferring their ignorant bliss over being teachable.

I am soon closing in on nearly two decades of serving in Christian ministry. I have had the privilege of pastoring two rural churches in southeastern Ohio. And so, I have had my fair share of encounters with persons who prefer not to know the truth of a matter. Such individuals dislike having cherished narratives that they hold challenged. They refuse to investigate matters thoroughly, even though it is their responsibility as representatives of Christ.

You may be correct on a given issue but you will never truly know until that issue has been challenged. It used to be taught in scientific inquiry that the goal of the scientific method was the disapproval of a supposed concept. Within a generation, this standard has been removed.

The goal of sciences…

Are you aware that there was a time in the past when Christian theology was called the “queen of the sciences?” Just like most people offhandedly dismiss the idea that politics and faith are interrelated issues, so too is their disdain for the idea that the study of God is truly a scientific endeavor. No, not science in the sense of empirical data gathering. But science in the sense of pursuing knowledge and wisdom. Empirical science is a tool that seeks to gain knowledge and wisdom about the material world. The same is true of theological inquiry, it is the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom about the Maker of heaven and earth and all therein.

Answer to a troubling question…

In case you are wondering where in the heck I’m headed, I’ll let you in on the big reveal. For a few weeks now I have been speaking on issues pertaining to the 2nd Amendment; the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense. Previously I have stated that this is a religious issue. Some may wonder at this: “How is that possible when it is surely a political issue?” This is an important question. One that needs to be carefully weighed and responded to. In particular, it is a question that Christians need to wrestle with and come down on the right side of.

You see, my primary goal is to reach professing Christians—that is my target audience. I’m not opposed to others reading my work, but as a pastor, my goal is the edification of the body of Christ. Many Christians do not see the connection between politics and their faith. Some believe that our citizenship in heaven prevents us from getting entangled in the affairs of this earth. Politics is focused on societal behaviors. However, you need to ask yourself, “What is the governing principle behind one’s political views or the policies that may be enacted upon a society?” Two things need to be understood.

Two things: Politics and Faith…

First, while it is true that we are citizens of heaven, if we are in Christ, another equal truth is established from our faith: we are citizens of this earth. Christians have dual citizenship: in heaven and on earth. And so, since our faith is not meant to be lived under a basket, we need to be concerned about this world (for our children, our children’s children, our children’s children’s children sake, etc., etc.). Furthermore, as Christians it is our responsibility to have concerns about the welfare of others, even beyond the welfare of our families and churches, for we are commanded to love our neighbors; even our enemies. Thus, politics which deals with society, which affects society either positively or negatively, ought to be a Christian’s concern. We are not permitted to say to our neighbors, “Oh, you’re cold…be warm” but give them nothing to warm themselves. Or, “Oh, you’re thirsty…be quenched” but give them nothing to drink. Or, “Oh you’re being robbed, assaulted, infringed upon through unjust taxation (among a list of others things)…” but do nothing to help alleviate the harm being done to them.

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does… What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?…if [faith] does not have works, [it] is dead” (James 1.22-25; 2.14, 17).

This leads to the second principle that ought to be carefully considered. What is the foundation or cornerstone—i.e., the governing principle—behind political views and policies that are enacted upon a society? Think about this. What do the various policies meant to curb a society’s behavior entail? They attempt to establish a parameter of right and wrong. Politics seeks to answer ethical questions about life, about the inner workings of a given society. Therefore, politics is never neutral. How can it be, when people are not? Consequently, politics is likewise a religious issue.

We read in Scripture that,

The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14.1a).

Does this mean that the fool does not worship anything? Is the fool without religious convictions? No, that is not what the Holy Spirit says. The fool’s denial of God is not a denial of an object of worship or a god to serve, but as seen in the case of atheism (no-god), they worship themselves for they are their own object of worship. Their mind is the determiner of truth, the arbitrator of right and wrong.

So Christian what sort of leader should you prefer to govern the policies of society? One that is founded upon the Word of God, held under the conviction that Christ is Lord over all; or another who pretends that they speak as gods and that they are the messiah of the masses? The Christian faith demands that we defend against all manner of wrong, once it has been sought out and properly identified. Moreover, our faith established the groundwork for self-defense.

Stepping along the path of contention…

How will a father protect his children, the very heritage that the Lord from above has granted him if he lays down his arms of self-defense? Do you not know that a mother bear will, without shame, protect her young cubs from harm? Even when the enemy in question is much larger and stronger than she is, like a male bear?

I pointed out last time that David, the young shepherd, stood against a mighty foe named Goliath as an act of self-defense. He defended himself, his family, his king, and his nation. More importantly, David fought to protect the sacred name of God. A testimony to all the nations that God alone is God:

You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber,” says David, “but I come to you in the name of the Lord of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you and remove your head from you. Then I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that this entire assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will hand you over to us!” (1Samuel 17.45-47; emphasis added).

Remember that self-defense properly defined is “the act of defending oneself, one’s property, or a close relative.”2 A defender protects, he does not instigate or provoke. While this concept is difficult for some to accept, what seems to be the decisive point of contention is that self-defense sometimes leads to the taking of another human life.

Humanitarian hearts…

Human life is sacred. Do you believe this? Do you think that human lives are precious? Though I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, you need to understand that the ONLY reason this is the case is that life is a gift from God. If you believe that life sprung up as a result of random processes (chance) due to some, as of yet unexplained, series of evolutionary actions, then you have no legitimate justification to argue about the dignity of life. Either life is an accident or life is purposeful. The Christian worldview alone accounts for this truth, the only way someone who denies biblical truth can attempt to argue in such a way is to adopt (borrow or steal) from a system of faith that is not their own. However, since all human creatures have been created in the image of God, a common belief will no doubt be held that life is sacred, precious and is worth preserving and protecting.3 Such intellectual schizophrenia is to be expected by rebellious sinners who deny their Creator.

This schizophrenia is visible in many of the arguments surrounding the 2nd Amendment. People on both sides of the aisle will argue that life is precious and must be protected. To do this, it is argued, is to avoid self-defense in the sense of taking another life regardless of the circumstances. It is believed that if dangerous weapons like guns were removed from the public’s grasp, then life would be properly guarded. David Barton highlights this popular attitude. He writes,

“…there is also the subjective, emotional argument. That is, since every individual with any sense of humanity detests seeing families destroyed, innocent children sacrificed, and promising lives snuffed out as a result of gun violence, the argument is advanced that the reducing the number of guns will produce a safer society.”4

The key issue in the debate over self-defense is whether or not an individual has the right to take the life of another. Period. Christians wonder, “If the taking of life is ever right within the confines of the biblical worldview?” Pacifist pastors like John Piper say, “no.” Progressive Christian scholars like David P. Gushee seem to share similar thoughts. Gushee, in his book entitled The Sacredness of Human Life argues,

“Jesus never blessed killing. He died for God’s kingdom but did not kill for it. His disciples understood the centrality of his radical nonviolence and became a nonviolent movement in a violent context of imperial oppression and domination. They rejected and recoiled from every form of killing, from abortion to infanticide to the gladiator games to war to the death penalty. They could not bear to see anyone killed, ‘though justly.’”5

Earlier in the same text, Gushee opined what he evidently believed was an inescapable truth:

“Let us grant that no simple appeal to life’s sacredness can resolve the question whether Christians can support or participate in war… Just-war theory has been pristine only in theory, not where the bodies pile up.”6

If we were to classify the three arguments against taking life under the guise of self-defense they would be as follows: no weapons, no just-killing, no just-war. All three are interrelated in the sense that they desire the preservation of life. Yet, all three fail to discern the nature of reality as it truly is:

“…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen 8.21; cf. Gen 6.5).

When Killing Ain’t Wrong, and When it is…

Almost every person that visited a Sunday school at some point in their life (or at least had friends that did?) has heard this biblical text cited. Don’t worry, even if you didn’t go to Sunday school or at least had friends that did, odds are you’ve heard this commandment before. You may have even recited it yourself:

"Thou shall not kill" (Exod 20.13; KJV).

The one who understands this commandment as saying that all forms of killing are wrong will then proceed to explain why the death penalty is wrong, eating animals is not the way to go. To be a Christian and then argue that there are times, in certain situations, where killing is justified is from their point-of-view groundless, hypocritical dribble. Thus, leading to a divided camp in Christendom (that’s Christ’s kingdom for the uninitiated)8 regarding the use of firearms or the self-defense claim.9

But is that what Exodus 20:13 says? “Come on man, can’t you read,” decries the critic, “that’s exactly what it says!” While there is nothing wrong with the King James rendering of the verse, murder would have been a more accurate translation of the Hebrew text for not all killing is unjustified. As the writer of Ecclesiastes explains, there is

"A time to kill…" (Eccl 3.3a).

And a few verses later the writer even says there is

"A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace" (Eccl 3.8).

Mark that! Not all killing is unjustified. In some cases, you would be unjustified in not killing.

So that Bible says that you shouldn’t kill, but then you should kill. O’ how some people love a supposed contradiction. Yeah, that’s right, I said supposed. I say that because it’s true. There is no contradiction here. For, the biblical witness describes and defines when killing is appropriate and when it is not. Scripturally speaking, killing another is justified when practicing self-defense (Exodus 22:2)10; when the civil authorities find one guilty of a crime worthy of death and they have them executed (Exodus 21.12; cf. Lev 24.16); when warring with another nation (people) is justified (Esther 8.11 cited above; cf. 2Samuel 10:12; Nehemiah 4.11-14 ).

This seems to be a good place to stop. We shall investigate the matter further before we move on, and in so doing, we shall see what necessary safeguards the Lord has put in place to prevent the wanton taking of life….

ENDNOTES:

1Unless otherwise noted all scriptural references shall be of the New American Standard Bible, 2020 update (NASB).

2Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary & Thesaurus, 2008 Desktop edition, s.v., “self-defense” def. 2.

3Due to different objects of faith there will be variances in how this is to be understood. A case in point is seen in the argument over abortion (the murder of unborn babies). Both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates will argue that life is precious but the former will not be as consistent as to when life is a truly precious life worth preserving and protecting. For the Pro-Choicer the woman’s autonomy is the most precious aspect of life and it needs to be protected at all costs. The Pro-Lifer believes that both the woman and the child are precious but not at the expense of one or the other; absolute autonomy is therefore rightly rejected.

4David Barton, The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Protection (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 2000), Kindle Edition, loc 305-313.

5David P. Gushee, The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision is Key to the World’s Future, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013), 370-371.

6Ibid., 166. Allow me to put those citations provided by Gushee into context. The first quote above (p. 370-371) is in light of Gushee’s discussion regarding the death penalty. The second quote (p. 166) is in the sixth chapter of his book “Christendom divided against itself: Three Case Studies” where he argues against “war” in a Christian context. To the reader, I will add my thoughts regarding both issues.

8And yes, I am one of those guys that says Christ reigns supreme from heaven on earth and anything in creation—seen or unseen—that fall in between. He is Lord, King, of it all, for ALL authority in heaven and on earth is His by divine right, through sacrificial love, via the power of the Holy Spirit. That is Christ Jesus is the earthly representative of the invisible God. He alone can reveal God for He alone is God, was with God, and shares in the glory of God something no mere creature could do.

9John Piper once said that if a man were assailing his wife rather than violently intervening, he’d call the police and wait. See: John Piper, “Should Christians be Encouraged to Arm Themselves,” Desiring God, December 22, 2015, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/should-christians-be-encouraged-to-arm-themselves. (Reference point in the article is under heading #8). In a forthcoming post, I will be arguing against the various points Piper uses to substantiate his claim. For it is my conviction that such pacifism while sounding holy, is as unholy as turning a stone into bread so that a hungry man might have a bite to eat. Such pacifism encourages violence, rather than dissuading it. Rather the godly man should play the part of Phineas and run that devil through (cf. Num 25.7-11)!

10The next verse adds further clarity on the intention here. It states, “[But] if the sun has risen on him, there will be guilt for bloodshed on his account” (Exod 22.3a). The idea seems to be that in a more vulnerable state (like in the night) you are not to be held accountable for acting in self-defense; however, if the sun has arisen (meaning you are able to assess the situation more accurately) then you will be held accountable for killing unnecessarily. Restraint should always be used in defense, unless no other option is available.

Posted in Biblical Questions

When Men who Act like Beasts Attack: Further Inquiry into the Question of Self-Defense

And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of [Goliath]; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said to Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, see he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, the Lord had delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1Sam 17.32-37a: KJV).

INTRODUCTION:

Self-defense does not necessitate killing but it is sometimes necessary to kill when one is forced to defend themselves or others. Though there will be those that deny such a necessity, their denial, regardless of how strongly they hold to it, does not disprove that we have a God-given right to protect our person, our loved ones (this includes our neighbors depending on the circumstances) and our property.

Citizens of the United States of America have a special privilege that the rest of the world does not enjoy, a Bill of Rights integrated within our federal constitution. These rights at the time of their formation were recognized as inalienable rights, something not conferred to individuals by their civil government but meant to be preserved and protected from governing institutions. A couple of historical citations provided by David Barton, author the book entitled “The Second Amendment” confirms:

“Constitution signer John Dickinson, like so many of the others in his day, defined an inalienable right as a right ‘which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away’”1

In case you’re wondering “inferior power” would be the civil government at any level, since such authorities have received delegated powers from the One whose power has no limits in either scope or authority… Almighty God of heaven and earth. Barton adds further insight into the convictions of the day (18th century) when he cites “James Wilson…one of only six Founders who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution” for having made the following remarks about our inalienable rights being guarded by the Bill of Rights:

“…to acquire a new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights to… which we were previously entitled by the immediate gift or by the unerring law of our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator.”2

This includes the right to self-defense (2nd Amendment); An inalienable right, a gift from our Creator, to guard the gift of “Life”3 and all those things pertaining to it (i.e., liberty and the pursuit of happiness, among other things not mentioned). It does not require a law degree to know how to read. Meaning, you don’t need to be a constitutional lawyer or have earned a doctorate in history to comprehend the original intention behind our nation’s founding documents. But it does require a little effort on our part.

Exegesis is a literary discipline that I have taught to youth and adults alike when studying their Bible. To exegete, a text means to draw out of it the original intention of the author when written. This requires the reader to learn all they can about the writer(s), their audience, the history surrounding the material, and the language that was common at the time when their work was finished.

You may be wondering, “Why is that important? Seems like a lot of work to me.” You’d be right, it is a lot of work, nonetheless necessary if we are going to avoid gross errors of misinterpretation. When we read, especially when reading works of history, we want to avoid reading our ideas or feelings into the text. The author (of whatever work you are reading) had an original intent, an original purpose that needs to be properly weighed, so your duty is to keep the integrity of the text as unmarred as possible.

I want to be brief here, but I believe it is important enough to share with you in case you didn’t know or are misinformed. Inalienable rights are not granted by people in high places but are endowed in the image-bearers of God, from their Creator. In other words, all human beings have these essential rights as their birthright. If you happen to live in a time or place where they are not recognized or dismissed it is because of the tyrannical despots in positions of authority above you. Of course, such rights are contingent upon one’s response to the law; in particular, the law of God. This includes the question of self-defense; a topic that has held my attention for quite a while now.4

Self-defense is not an argument limited to conservative versus liberal (i.e., progressive) circles, but one that is ofttimes hotly debated within Christian circles. Why this is the case is rather simple: self-defense is a religious issue. And so, my question when someone argues a particular point for or against an issue is, “By what standard?” or “Who says?” The answer to whether or not self-defense is right or wrong (which sometimes leads to the taking of another life) must be answered on the grounds of an absolute standard. Since I am convinced that the Christian worldview has an absolute standard (biblical revelation) that may be applied at all times, regarding all situations, I believe it is necessary to see what the Bible has to say on the issue in question.

Bears and Lions and Men who Behave like Them: A Brief Analysis of 1Samuel 17:32-37

I would imagine most people are somewhat familiar with the biblical story of “David and Goliath.” There is a good reason for this, it is the story of conquering the unconquerable foe. Depictions of the historical event often show David as a little shepherd boy fighting a mighty giant decked out in the finest armor, wielding weapons fit for a behemoth. David did fight a giant but he was not a little boy. He put on the armor of Saul a man the scriptures testify was a head taller than the rest of his peers (cf. 1Sam 9.2), it wasn’t too big for him, he just wasn’t used to fighting in it (cf. 1Sam 17.38-39). Moreover, by today’s reckoning, David would have been considered a young man. Twenty was the age of service in Israel’s army (cf. Exod 30.14; Num 1.3), our young shepherd would have been around 18.

Though popular Christian movies like Facing the Giants attempt to capitalize on the concept of vanquishing an insurmountable foe by trusting in the Lord, that is not the message conveyed in the 17th chapter of 1Samuel. To be fair, we do see an element of this truth at work, but what you have in this encounter is a comparison between the people’s choice of king and God’s.

You see, David was anointed to be the next king of Israel in 1Samuel 16:12-13. The Lord told His prophet, Samuel, to not just like mankind by just looking at outward appearances (1Sam 16.6-7). For God had chosen a man to be king that looked different than what people often look for in a leader. According to the Lord God, David was a man after His own heart (1Sam 16.7b; cf. 13.14). Meaning David’s primary concern was living for God; being a reflective image bearer, concerned about thinking and acting in a way that pleased the Lord above. If you’ve paid much attention to this historic book of the first two kings of Israel, then you’ll know how different this makes David from Saul. Saul was concerned about pleasing people, not God (cf. 1Sam 13.11). Saul was concerned about his image, not God’s (cf. 1Sam 15.12). Saul was keen on listening to and elevating his word above the Lord of Glory’s Word (cf. 1Sam 14.18-19, 24, 28-29). Time and time again Saul was depicted as unfit to be king over Israel (cf. 1Sam 28). He had the attitude of the people of the book of Judges, those that pretended they “… [had] no king in Israel; [therefore, Saul] did what was right in his own eyes” (Jdg 21.25).

What was at issue in 1Samuel 17 was faith. The king had no faith in God so he hid in his tent (1Sam 17.11). He even tried to bribe any valiant warrior who would match arms with Goliath on the battlefield with his daughter and the promise of no taxes for his family (1Sam 17.25, 27). A role that Saul fulfilled when God had anointed him to fight for Israel (1Sam 9.16). Well, the king had no faith evidenced by no courage, and as a result, neither did the rest of Israel’s army. They cowered every time they heard a challenge being shouted from the valley by the Philistinian giant. And then comes David the young shepherd, who had been secretly anointed by the prophet Samuel as the next king of Israel.

David hears the challenge of Goliath and he is angered. My guess is he was also a bit perturbed by the lack of faith in Israel at this time. And so, to the angst of his brothers (armed soldiers cowering on the hillside), David heads to Saul’s tent. He explains to Saul that he will fight this Philistine. Saul needs to be convinced for at first he denies the sanity of David’s request:

Thou are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1Sam 17.33; KJV).

In other words, Saul is saying to David “You can’t fight this fellow, he’s a trained man. He’s been warring with others since he was young like you! If you continue down this course, you will die.”

But David is undeterred. He recites to the king his previous encounters with dangerous enemies. As a shepherd of his father’s sheep, he had to face off against lions and bears. When they attacked his father’s flock he did not hesitate to go after them to rescue the lamb. And if those predators attempted to assail him, he killed them:

And I went after him [either lion or bear], and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him” (1Sam 17.35; KJV).

In David’s mind, the Philistine named Goliath would share in their lot. For with great confidence, not in himself as a man but as a creature endowed by his Creator, he said,

Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.’ And David said, ‘The Lord who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will save me from the hand of this Philistine” (1Sam 17.36-37; NASB).

And the rest is, as they say, history. David slew Goliath. He defended God’s flock (Israel) from a beast of a man, and he proved himself as the rightful king to come. A young man who entrusted his life (and through his action) the life of others into the Sovereign King over all the Earth.

How is that Self-Defense?

An appropriate question I think by the reader at this point would be, “How is that self-defense?”According to a trusted English dictionary, self-defense is “the act of defending oneself, one’s property, or a close relative.”5 So who was David defending when he stepped on the battlefield? Himself. Who was David concerned about when he stepped on the battlefield? His fellow Israelite’s. Ultimately, whose honor was David attempting to guard on the battlefield that day, as a witness to the world? The Holy One of Israel, the living God—Yahweh (1Sam 17.36).

You see, Goliath was threatening Saul and the men of Israel in Socoh (1Sam 17.1). By extension, this was a threat against their women and children. Wars in that period were primarily fought by men, but the losing army would experience further pain knowing that their families and neighbors likewise were endangered. This means that David was among those being threatened by Goliath and the Philistinian army. But this attack was not just against men (and their families), it was also against the God they represented. The young shepherd fought to protect the sheep (analogically speaking) of God in the name of the One who anointed him (called him) to service. David took the battlefield as a defender.

Getting to the heart of the matter…

We have reached a key point in this article. To attack a fellow human being is not only to attack their person, but also the God who gave them life, as it is His image they bear (cf. Gen 9.5-6).

Listen, when you threaten the life of another when you assault them when you prey upon them, you are in that moment making the self-claim to godhood. Assailants and attackers and murders who prey on others assume that they have the right to do what they please. It is an attempt to demonstrate power over the life of another through the use of force.6 It is also a blatant finger being thrown into the face of the Triune Creator God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). This is precisely what Nimrod did (Gen 10.8-9) before his kingdom came crumbling down (cf. Gen 11.1-9). To act in such a manner is not only to attack an individual, but it is likewise an attempt to smite the Author of Life.

But does this make it right to kill, to play a part in violence, to use weapons of war? That is a subject in which we shall venture into next time….

ENDNOTES:

1David Barton, The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Protection (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 2000), Kindle Edition, loc 48-55. Dickinson’s comments are taken from the following document: John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, R.T. H. Halsey, editor (New York: The Outlook Company, 1903), p. xlii, letter to the Society of Fort St. David’s, 1768.

2Ibid., loc 60. Emphasis in original. Wilson’s comments taken from his written work: James Wilson and Thomas McKean, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States of America (London: J. Debrett, 1792); Volume II, page 454.

3“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, a—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Declaration of Independence, PDF, 2nd par. Italics added.

4This has been a debate in our nation (the United States of America) for quite a while. The Kyle Rittenhouse case brought it to the forefront in a way that other cases did not. In part, I would imagine this was due to the upheaval we witnessed last year in many cities across our country in response to the BLM and ANTIFA riots. Like many issues where disagreement is sharp, it is necessarily polarizing.

5Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary & Thesaurus, 2008 Desktop edition, s.v., “self-defense” def. 2.

6SIDE NOTE: This is one of the reasons why the whole Coronavirus narrative has me so upset. The government is attempting to use the strong arm of the law—their power, their influence—to coerce a population to make choices regarding health they deem fit. They are threatening the livelihood of those who do not comply by manipulating businesses to force inoculation with an experimental drug. (Sorry, I’m not sure what you’d call something to be taken into the human body without informed consent; consent that has all three phases of clinical trials available, all safety data and content of the “medication” provided). We invest an incredible amount of time in education and training in a particular field of occupation and that is going to be stripped from so many in the blink of an eye. That is an act of violence against a population for not following arbitrary commands. (Again, sorry but not sorry, how many times has the narrative flip-flopped regarding the handling of so-called safety measures in light of this virus?).

Posted in self-defense

Those “things” that go BANG! when you pull the Trigger and the Progressives that Hate them: A Question of Self-Defense

“[The Lord God] trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend even the strongest bow. You give me your protective shield; your willingness to help enables me to prevail. You widen my path; my feet do not slip. I chase my enemies and destroy them; I do not turn back until I wipe them out. I wipe them out and beat them to death; they cannot get up; they fall at my feet. You give me strength for battle; you make my foes kneel before me. You make my enemies retreat; I destroy those who hate me. They cry out, but there is no one to help them. I grind them as fine as the dust of the ground; I crush them like clay in the streets” (2Samuel 22:35-43; NET).

You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you’re the one creating danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.” –Thomas Binger, Assistant DA of Kenosha County Wisconsin.1

INTRODUCTION:

Originally, I posted an article entitled “Guns and the Progressives that Hate them.” The subtitle had the phrase: “A question of self-defense.” At the time I realized that it was far too long for a blog post, but I made an error in judgment and published it anyway. I have since deleted that post, having decided to disseminate that content into smaller articles to be consumed at your leisure. This will be the first where I attempt to deal with the argument presented by Thomas Binger (cited above). When I first heard his comments, I laughed. However, I was surprised to learn that many people share his convictions. Many young people. Many are disciples (by-products) of the public school system. Many who have gone off to a four-year liberal arts college or university and are still suffering from sophomore syndrome.2

The question of self-defense, in particular, “armed” self-defense, is one of contention in Christian and non-Christian circles. There is intramural debate within the Christian community as to whether someone who claims to be a child of God, a servant of Jesus Christ, ought to involve themselves in areas that promote violence. This is not new. Historically it has been a debate among those who bear the name of Christ. In a forthcoming article, I will highlight one such example, but for the moment we are going to weigh Binger’s opinion (and those who share his views) in light of a biblical worldview.

Binger’s Statement under Review; a Sampling from Two Founding Father’s

“You lose you’re right to self-defense when you are the one who brought the gun, when you’re the one creating danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.”—Thomas Binger

Let me wrap my head around this statement: “You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun?” Interesting. I’m not sure on what grounds such a claim is made? But it is an interesting one. Scratch that. It is more than interesting, I would argue that the comment is very telling. Binger, like so many progressives in our nation, hates guns. Scratch that. That isn’t accurate. They don’t hate guns. Many progressives have security measures in place with real guns being used by those guarding their lives. I wouldn’t be surprised if Binger ain’t3 the same sort of fellow. So, the hate isn’t towards the guns but rather, you or I or any Joe Schmoe off the street having one. And while having one is bad enough, it’s not just possessing one that drives them crazy but the willingness on our part to use them if the circumstances call for it.

No such circumstance ever exists in the mind of those that hate armed Americans. Again, not every “armed American,” but only those unsanctioned by the progressive elite. You see, progressives value the protection of firearms4, but they detest the average citizen in our Democratic-Republic5 bearing them. Oh how far we have drifted from our proverbial roots. For it was the intention of those that helped form this nation that the common folk would not be unarmed but armed; they would not be prevented from protecting their public liberty but would be expected to do so at all costs.

As James Madison stated before the congressional house on June 8, 1789,

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country….”6

Also witnessed by the pen of Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Cartwright on June 5, 1824,

“The constitution of most of our states [and of the United States] assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent… that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property; and freedom of the press.”7

Properly defined and understood…

What does it mean to be armed? It means to carry a weapon or something that may be used as a weapon providing the user security in a time of need. What can be used as a weapon? Pretty much anything if the user knows how to wield it effectively. Does being armed mean that you are provoking other people or creating danger? Is being armed a gateway towards the road of violence? To the progressive mind, it is…supposedly, anyway.

In fact, to the mind of a progressive, there is no such thing as an individual right to bear arms. Let alone, guns. The very idea that individuals like you and me would not only own such a weapon but attempt to use it effectively is beyond preposterous. Contrary to such sentiments, though, the true meaning of the second amendment of the Bill of Rights integrated into the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees individuals the affirmation and protection of bearing arms; including, arms such as guns.

Speaking on the legal commentaries of the period at our nation’s founding, David Barton writes,

“As will be demonstrated, the Second Amendment was to protect what was frequently called ‘the first law of nature’—the right of self-protection…an inalienable right—a right guaranteed to every citizen individually.”8

People may contest the rights that we have recognized9 in our nation’s Constitution. Even those who now serve as elected officials, lawyers, judges, police officers, and professing legal experts as the collegiate level may question whether such rights may or may not be amended or removed, but the fact remains that such rights are by divine providence alone. Meaning no other governing body has the right to infringe upon them. Furthermore, such attempts may be resisted and ignored by the surrounding populace, and if the governing body over us continues, they may be replaced!10

A Brief look at 2Samuel 22:35-43

This is a song composed by David, the second king of Israel. Many of the lines of this song will be noted in various other Psalms (e.g., Psa 18 & 144). As may be guessed I have a reason for citing this particular song (see above). The content and the language will be viewed by many in our culture as inflammatory, offensive and downright mean. No doubt there will be some among the jelly-fish crowd (Evangelly’s to be specific) that will express varying responses ranging from embarrassment to denial. Such individuals will attempt to pacify the masses by saying “that’s in the Old Testament,” or “that is not reflective of the love of God and His grace demonstrated in the New Testament,” or, they’ll use the favored, “the language is poetic…it’s figurative and not to be taken literally.” Hogwash!

David’s words are penned for us in the OT, that is true, but they are as relevant now as they were back then. They do demonstrate God’s love and grace. Grace is seen in the life of David as a redeemed man, a man of God. Love is seen in the life of David and his actions for He is not only a product of God’s love (in being His child) but also because David shows a true hatred for evil.

David claimed that God prepared him for battle. He pointed to God’s providential action as the reason for his victory over his enemies. He understood that you cannot negotiate with evil, nor is it possible to have peace with those who want to harm you. The only recourse left is to fight back. This song is not sung by an aggressor, but by a defender. True David was armed, but he would not have used his weapons of warfare, he would not have pursued his enemies and vanquished them, had they left him alone. In the words of Rambo, “they drew first-blood.” Nor was this vengeance. David sought peace, even with his enemies, as his two encounters with Saul, his father-in-law and the first, king of Israel demonstrate (cf. 1Sam 24.1-12; 26.9-20).

This song proves a few things. God does not hate all violence and neither should Christians. God does not detest bearing arms nor training for battle, and neither should Christians. God moved David to write this song for it honors the Lord of glory, and Christians need to learn to do the same. Hating evil, and when pressed, vanquishing it is a holy endeavor. I could offer further qualifications, but if you’ve failed to understand my words to this point, further qualification would be an utter waste of my time, and yours.

A couple of things to be noted in closing…

The entirety of this post is in the question of self-defense. Thomas Binger says of Kyle Rittenhouse that taking a gun into a situation voids the argument of self-defense. Apparently to progressives like Binger bringing a gun incites violence. I believe that bringing a gun into a situation does the opposite unless you’re plain nuts. I see a person wielding a gun and my thoughts go to extreme caution, not violence. In that type of scenario, I want to avoid violence at all costs. The gun acts as a deterrent. Progressives don’t like that argument, they vehemently deny it, but having watched the videos of Kenosha on August 25, 2020, I saw the opposite of what Binger argued for in his attempted prosecution of Rittenhouse.

When the crowd witnessed Kyle with a gun the majority stayed back. The only ones attacking him seemed to think this kid was an easy victim. They were aggressive when they thought Rittenhouse was vulnerable. When he attempted to flee they attacked. When he turned his back or his gun was in a seemingly harmless position like when he was on the ground after being struck by a skateboard in the head, others saw an opportunity to attack weak prey. It was only after his gun was raised, and when he fired shots with intent that the overconfident crowd backed off.

Mob mentality is like that. They get into a frenzy when they see easy targets, but run for the hills when the threat to their safety becomes real. Their safety would never have been in question had they left the boy alone. Had they not been there rioting there would not have been a need for armed citizens to protect what hired officers and elected officials refused to do.

The intent behind the second amendment to our Federal Constitution is just that. An armed citizenry is meant to be a deterrent to evil. Whether that evil is from vicious, wicked neighbors or tyrannical despots. Armed citizens are not authorized by the 2nd Amendment to use deadly force as aggressors, but only as defenders.

This is a biblical teaching. The Christian faith upholds and protects the right to bear arms against evil. Primarily the use of force is to be exercised by those in the executive branch at all three levels (local, state and federal). God had established the civil magistrate as the judges who wield the sword, not in vain (Rom 13.4). They have been established as authorities over citizens in whom they have been called to serve, to execute God’s vengeance against evil, and at the same time promote the good among the people. Self-defense falls under the category of self-government. A true category of authority but severely limited in its function and territory. It is limited to self and personal property. It is limited to the preservation of life in extreme circumstances. It is not to be used for vigilante justice or in the way that anarchists like ANTIFA or BLM have exercised it in the public sector in recent years.

What I mean is this. If an attacker assails me as I’m walking down the street, then I’m authorized to use force to stop the attacker. If it requires me to use deadly force because no other alternative presents itself, then so be it…but that is in extreme circumstances, NOT the norm. The same goes for my wife and children. You break into my home at night you better have your life in order (odds are you don’t or why else break into my home?) because if God gives you into my hands at that moment I will use such force necessary to send you to Him. The same may be said with my property, although there is a limitation on how much force is allowed in that type of situation. As one former deputy sheriff told me, “If someone is attempting to steal your property, say like your car, you have the right to drag that individual out of it and beat them into submission so that the authorities can arrest them when they arrive.” If I can avoid getting physical I will, but if no other recourse is left to me, then I will do what my God-given rights allow…and nothing more.

When a person complains that my weapon of deterrence is bigger than my attacker, all they prove in that moment is that they prefer weak victims over strong defenders. All comments made by progressive individuals like Binger prove is that they prefer United States citizens to be weak victims. That way, we are easier to control and enslave.

ENDNOTES:

1Quoted in R. Cort Kirkwood, “Prosecutor: If You Have a Gun and Your Attacker Doesn’t, You ‘Lose the Right of Self-Defense,'” The New American, November 16, 2021, accessed 12/16/2021, https://thenewamerican.com/prosecutor-if-you-have-a-gun-and-your-attacker-doesnt-you-lose-the-right-of-self-defense/.

2In our four-year tier system of education “sophomore” is a second year student. Historically, however, the word refers to someone who is “conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature.” Greek: sophos (wisdom); moros (moron).

3Yeah, I used “ain’t” (are-not), but I did so on purpose. Sometimes you just need to be transparent with people and rip off the covering that shrouds who you are. I’m an average American that loves my country, the freedom that God has granted me (along with the breath in my lungs), and hates fakey, breaky hearts. And sometimes, I like using that one word that my English teachers hated when I was a kid. It’s fun. It rolls off the tongue easily enough. And now I’m finished with my lame explanation. Thanks for reading (lol).

4Not only do these people not want you to have guns, but they don’t want you to have the same access to police that they do. The “Defund the Police” movement is one such example. It is not as if progressives want “no police,” rather they want police that supports them; police that do their bidding. Just like Brad Lander of NYC who wants to defund the New York City Police Department. He has his own private police (New York cops that he accepts), but he doesn’t want other New Yorkers to have the same privilege. Why? Well…because it’s racist. See: Matt McNulty, “Incoming NYC comptroller Brad Lander requests a NYPD security detail—despite calling for force to have $1B slashed from its budget,” Daily Mail, Updated 29, December 2021, accessed 12/30/2021, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10351439/NYC-comptroller-NYPD-security-despite-vocal-defund-police-advocate.html.

5Sorry folks the United States of America is not a “democracy,” but a representative republic via democratic procession.

6“A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875,” Of Debates in Congress: Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789, page 451, from The Library of Congress, https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=001/llac001.db&recNum=227. (accessed 12/16/2021).

7“Image 2 of Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, June 5, 1824,” from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mtj1.054_0553_0558/?sp=2. (accessed 12/16/2021). Emphasis mine.

8David Barton, The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Protection (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 2000), Kindle Edition, loc 50.

9Notice I used the term “recognized” not granted. Our rights are granted by God alone; no other.

10Such a clause is noted in the state of Ohio’s Constitution. See Article 1.2 under the Heading Bill of Rights. It states, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they deem it necessary….”

Posted in religion

Religious Recommendation: For those who believe they have an exemption

Now while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he observed that the city was full of idols…So Paul stood in the midst of the Aeropagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this transcription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you’” (Acts 17.16, 21-23; NASB).1

Their idols [unbelieving peoples] are silver and gold, the work of human hands…Those who make them are like them” (Psa 115.4, 8).

For they exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Rom 1.25a).

_________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION:

What is religion? What is a religious person? Are you one? Do you know such an individual? I ask because I’m convinced that many people do not know the true answer.

Over the past few months I have spent a significant amount of time attempting to provide individuals from a variety of businesses with information on religious exemptions pertaining to the medical treatment being rammed down American throats (actually jabbed in the arm) without their informed consent. I say “without informed consent” because of the strong arm tactics being used in order to force compliance. Very little information is given about this medical treatment. There is no 3-5 year safety data provided. Any data provided that is counter to the current narrative is silenced, mocked or ignored. A medical crisis is claimed but evidently not one so serious that we cannot fire a large portion of our health professionals.

The hysteria regarding this illness is disturbing. Arguments of irrationality are provided by those that pretend to be completely rational. For example, if face diapers work then why bother those who refrain from wearing them? If they cannot prevent smoke particles from getting into your lungs, then why say that they can stop viruses which are measurably smaller? If the medical treatment is safe and effective, then why not provide an ingredient list? Why suppress adverse reactions including death? If it is out of love for neighbor, then where is your love the neighbor that has legitimate concerns for not getting it? If the information provided by the “experts” is accurate and truthful, then why refuse to have an open debate in the public sphere where other “experts” in the same fields of study disagree in their interpretation of the data? Why censor rather than critically analyze? If you’ve received the medical treatment and you believe it works as intended, then why are your fearful of those who have not? If protection is truly offered, then how can you be harmed? Why are the numbers still rising in cases and deaths when more people have taken the prescribed treatment? How can the numbers be higher when the majority of the population has participated in this medical experiment?

To use a simple analogy for those uncomfortable with answering probing questions:

Automobiles travel at high speeds and people, due to human error, tend to have accidents. In the past people did not wear seat belts and as a result the death count was too high. So actions were taken to educate and enforce the use of seat belts in all automobiles. The seat belts were deemed safe and effective and the best tool available to curb the high fatality rate. Nearly 70% of the driving population was convinced that wearing seat belts was the best preventive measure they could take. The took the experts advice and did what they recommended (i.e., they followed the guidelines). But when the data came in and the numbers were crunched the fatality rate had not really dropped. The cases of seat belt fatalities was as high if not higher than the previous year. What was the problem? Why were the number still too high? Ah the reason is simple. The 30% (or less) who refused to wear seat belts were the source of the higher case load of deaths. Driving would not truly be safe for anyone, not even those who wore seat belts and were protected, until the radical 30% learned their place and submitted to the tool provided by the experts. Until they were brought in line with the rest of the safety conscious public driving would too dangerous of an activity to pursue. (Hypothetical scenario for illustrative purposes only).

Back to Religion…

Now I started off this post with questions pertaining to religion. And I made the bold statement that many people in our day don’t know the answer as to what a religion is and who is actually a religious person. I also shared that I have made myself available as a pastor to aid individuals seeking a religious exemption from their employer regarding a particular mandate coming down the pike. And I am glad to say that some of my efforts have been successful. However, I have noticed a bit of confusion on the part of many both inside and outside the Christian fellowship.

There have been those that have assumed that to be a religious person you must be associated with a particular sect or denomination or faith. Others have argued that science, medicine or politics are not religious in nature, thus, you cannot make an argument against what the “experts” are saying on the grounds of religious faith. Sadly, some notable pastors have offered this idea from one degree to another.

  • Popular pastor and author John Piper argues that in light of the evidence presented in the media by the approved experts, Christians have little reason to avoid taking the prescribed medical treatment. An act of godly love should drive their decision not peer pressure from apparently joining the ranks of those they normally oppose. After discussing the freedom we experience in Jesus Christ, Piper argues we dare not use that freedom to violate others: “But woe to us Christians if this radical freedom makes us cocky.”2
  • Robert Jeffress a pastor in Dallas, TX is dismissive of those that try to appeal to religion as a way to avoid getting the government’s medicine. He confidently asserts that you might as well avoid other medications if you’re going to be consistent, and then explains that neither he nor his staff will be providing recommendations for anyone seeking a religious exemption.3

Both men are entitled to their opinion. All people are. But the freedom to express one’s opinion is not the same thing as being right. I’m sure that both men have strong feelings about their position and would argue adamantly in defense of it. The freedom to have feelings, even very strong ones, is another right that people have, but neither do feelings, even strong ones, make the position held a correct one.

They are not alone. A large number of Christian ministers promote a similar line of thought as seen in an Associated Press article by David Crary on the Christianity Today website.4 And so, we are back to the questions of religion, who’s religious, and is this a religious issue.

Defining Religion…

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the term means, “A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.”5 The Encyclopedia Britannica (2008) offers a similar meaning, “Relation of human beings to God or the gods or to whatever they consider sacred or, in some cases, merely supernatural.”6 We could peruse other resources but the answer will be the same. Religion may be something more classically understood as a worship of some deity with various ritualistic expressions of devotion; or religion may be understood in its most basic sense as a certain set of beliefs about reality as a whole that are strenuously held to (i.e., deep-seated convictions).

Paul in Athens…

This is precisely what Paul bears witness to while waiting for his ministry team in the ancient Grecian city of Athens (cf. Acts 17.16). As he observes the edifices of their cultural commitments; seen in their architecture and argumentation (i.e., idols, buildings, and thoughts) his spirit is continually being provoked within him. And since Athenians loved nothing more than to discuss this issue or that, to pontificate on this issue or that, we find the apostle entering into the marketplace (of ideas) reasoning with all who would give him audience (Acts 17.21, v. 17 respectively). His behavior earns him further investigation into his own beliefs as he is ushered into the court of ideas, the Aeropagus, where all important matters were weighed and judged (Acts 17.18-20). Paul a highly educated man in both Hebrew and Roman worldviews understood the nature of the case better than his contemporaries. He starts his defense of the Christian faith with a pointed observation of their own:

Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this transcription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you’” (Acts 17.22b-23).

Paul understood his audience better than they understood themselves. They were very religious people. People so cautious that they made an altar to an unknown god lest they offend that which they did not know. Paul’s point was that they worshiped the imaginations of their own mind, even though they knew at least to some extent that in God all people “live and move and exist” (Acts 17.28).

Who is religious?

All people. That’s what Paul said. It’s what the Psalmist explains in Psalm 115. People who deny the God of creation mock His children (cf. Psa 115.2) for believing that He exists because He is immaterial; a spiritual Being that has no beginning and no end, and who is in fact the Author of all beginnings and ends. But it is the unbelieving world that worships the imaginations of their own hearts (Psa 115.4-8). Having denied the God above them they turn inward and worship “the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1.25a).

Greg L. Bahnsen makes two pivotal points in his book By This Standard. The first is repeated several times throughout, “All of life is ethical.”7 The second speaks on the ethical mindset of mankind as a whole, “Men will either choose to be governed by God or to be ruled by tyrants.”8

Meaning what? The statement regarding ethics pertains to right and wrong behavior. A system of truth, a standard that determines what people should and should not do. Ethics pertains to the law, and the question that springs from it is, “Whose law?” This leads to Bahnsen’s second point. Either people will submit (individually and corporately) to God’s Law or they will submit to the law of some other. To be governed means to be led. Either people will be led to live their life in accordance with God’s law, or they will follow the lead of one who upholds their own law.

That this is in fact a religious issue may be seen in the words of Jesus the Christ:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6.24; KJV).

Jesus loved the Father and abided in His love (John 15.10). How did He do this? By keeping His commandments. This is the same requirement of any who would call Jesus their master, for if they loved Him they would keep His commandments (John 14.15). Anyone who claims that Jesus is His Master (i.e., Lord) but refuses to keep His commandments (i.e., word) is a liar (cf. Luke 6.46).

Since all of life is ethical, all of life is religious. Either we live to serve the God who created us and gives us life in Jesus, or we live under the law of the creature; ultimately, our own autonomous hearts (cf. Rom 8.7-8).

An issue of religion?

Is the prescribed medical treatment pushed by the civil government and their experts a religious issue? How does the argument go for receiving it? Is it an “ought to do” or an “if you want to?” It seems to me that a wide variety of individuals are arguing that it is something that we “ought to do.” Meaning that various religious leaders, medical professional, scientific experts, and elected politicians are saying that we should and we are wrong if we refuse. So serious are they on the matter that they are willing to use coercion and bullying techniques to get their way. Come January anyone who refuses an attempt will be made to rob them of their way of life. People are trying to couch the issue in terms of public health policy, but in so doing they are attempting to bind your hands and feet in the process.

Something that Piper said in his article that was spot on was that in Jesus Christ the sons/daughters of the kingdom have been set free. Free not only from sin, but free from the traditions of men. Which means at times free from the laws of men. Ultimately we live under the governance of God and not of men. Those who have received authority from on high have done so in a limited (delegated) fashion. They are charged with enforcing good and punishing evil. They are not charged with invoking their own version of good and punishing what they detest as evil.

Killing babies in the womb that is a version of the current civil government’s good. So too is mutilating young boys and girls, and allowing grown adults to play dress up and “let’s pretend.” Let us not forget about promoting envy and covetousness and calling it paying your fair share in order to rob people of their wealth and their children of their inheritance. Are those scientific issues? Are they medical issues? Are they merely political issues? Or are they at base religious issues?

No one has unlimited authority except God alone. Those in authority have limitations where they are permitted to exercise that authority, called jurisdictions. That others in power are attempting to force those underneath them to submit to their every whim is an expression of overreach (i.e., tyranny). They have gone beyond the boundaries prescribed to them by God (cf. Rom 13.1-10). Thus, attempting to force someone to make a medical decision that they are not comfortable with, or have strong convictions against, is in fact the very definition of a religious issue contrary to men like pastor Jeffress. The method or form of which is no different than what the apostles of Jesus Christ rejected in Acts 4:19, 5:29,

Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment… We must obey God rather than men”

Closing Remarks…

I understand full well that the nature of the case regarding this illness is driven by the religious zeal of others. All people are religious, but not all religions are equal. All people follow the law, but not all laws are worthy of consideration. Freedom comes from God who gave life, not from those who wish to call themselves gods and goddesses. The State is a servant not our Master. And if they fail to offer godly (i.e., goodly) service, then they are not worth listening to. Will their be consequences? Oh sure, you can bet on it. But their will be consequences either way you look at it. It’s really just a matter of what sort of consequences are you willing to live with?

Anyone who desires a religious exemption recommendation against what’s coming send me your sincerely held religious beliefs. Tell me in writing your circumstance, regardless of your religious affiliation and I will do my best to give you the best recommendation letter that I can.

I have been asked, “What if I’m not religious?” Which often times means, “What if I do not prescribe to any particular religion?” All people are religious there is no way of getting around that. All people have a worldview that is upheld by a certain set of presuppositions that guide their understanding of the world. Some of the founders of our nation were not Christians but were governed by and large by the biblical worldview. In our nations key documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and our own State Constitutions) certain rights and privileges are recognized as coming from the Creator. The government does not give us those rights, they are established to protect them. Though Thomas Jefferson was no Christian I would have had no problem, based on the criteria I just mentioned, writing him a recommendation for a religious exemption. That is not the same thing as me baptizing him or offering him communion and in turn ushering him into membership in my church. Those things I would not do without a profession of faith, after having time to sit down with him in a ministerial fashion.

We need to keep our categories of thought separate. The government does not have the authority to inject anything they want into your body. They do not have a right to rob you of your livelihood. You can be a conscientious objector, fall under the protections of our rights as citizens, and not share my faith. I’m not vouching for you as a Christian, but as a citizen in the United States that has your religious freedoms being stomped on! If God allows unbelievers to dwell in the land (as He did in ancient Israel), then who am I to say “Nope. Sorry. You don’t believe like I do, I can’t help you.” We are called to love our neighbors, even our enemies (cf. Deut 22.1-4; Prov 24.17-18), and if I am able to help aid you in such a fashion that does not violate my Lord’s commandments… then I will. I’ve already done it for some, I’m more than willing to offer what aid I can.

ENDNOTES:

1All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Bible, 2020 Update (NASB).

2John Piper, “A Reason to Be Vaccinated: Freedom,” Desiring God blog, October 19, 2021, accessed October 29, 2021, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-reason-to-be-vaccinated-freedom.

I appreciate the stated concern of Piper in this article, but I disagree with his premise. I believe that he has failed to consider the religious lens that guides the interpretation of data in any field of study; including, science and medicine. Worldviews guide interpretations of all data. A persons network of presuppositions are intricate and offer a bias as to how they will reach conclusions on a variety of subjects. Suppose we took Piper’s argument and applied it to the popular environmentalism of our day. There are “experts” that the civil government and popular media use to push forward their agenda of going green. Are we to take their interpretations at face-value? Are we to assume that they have the “fact of the matter” set, and then conclude that no other interpretations are available regarding the same data? Are we to believe that their own convictions about how one should care for the world in which we live is the only possible one? We know that we have freedom in Christ, but we shouldn’t allow that freedom in Christ to make us cocky. We’ve been commanded to be faithful stewards of the earth. Evidence by the “experts” shows that we are destroying our planet, that fossil fuels are dangerous, and the CO2 levels present a dangerous hazard to life on earth; therefore, we should stop cows from farting, only drive electric cars, and each have an Asherah pole in our backyards. Okay, so that last one was a little tongue-in-cheek, but the hysteria that drives that movement (environmentalism) is similar in form to the current one regarding the illness that has been front page news for over 20 months now. You could apply Piper’s argument in the same way because stating the “facts” alone does not in fact prove anything; other than espouse the worldview of those driving the narrative. Piper fails to consider or does not care to discern the religious motivations of those guiding the current agenda regarding the espoused medical treatment he says partaking in would be an act of love.

3Joshua Zitser, “Texas megachurch preacher and Trump devotee says there is no ‘credible religious argument’ against COVID-19 vaccines,” Insider, September 19, 2021, accessed October 29, 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/no-credible-religious-argument-against-covid-19-vaccines-megachurch-pastor-2021-9?op=1. Obviously, Jeffress does not see the current medical dilemma as a religious issue, but is he right?

4https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/april/white-evangelicals-pastors-covid-vaccine-skepticism.html.

5American Heritage Dictionary, 5th edition, s.v., “religion.” https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=religion.

6“Religion,” Britannica Desktop Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008).

7Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985), 13, 19, 21, 27. PDF e-book.

8Ibid, 265.

Posted in unity and love

A Day Dedicated to Love: As God Intended

Over the weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of my eldest son, Gabriel.Here is a picture of the newly wed couple.

It was an exiting day for our family. Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. While, my wife and I are not eager to be grandparents in the foreseeable future, we are thrilled to graft our newly wed daughter (in-law) into our family. Even better is knowing that both of them love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to honor Him for what I hope is a long-life.

Weeks before the wedding I was asked whether or not I was going to preach a sermon. After some thoughtful consideration and prayer I knew in my own heart that a sermon was not optional. And so, I considered what would be an appropriate message for the young couple, as well as those in attendance. Because I have not had the time to post much of my writing on this site, I thought it appropriate to share the message I gave on October 16, 2021.

Love is a powerful word. It is what brought the two of you here today. But, God’s definition of love is in many ways a foreign concept with our current cultural convictions.

In Scripture, love is described as an action. First and foremost love is defined by how we relate to the Triune Creator God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit):

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10.27a; cf. Deut 6.5; NASB).

Secondly, this love is to be reciprocated to others:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12.31; cf. Lev 19.18).

While these truths are often repeated by believers and non, they only give us direction as to where our love is to be pointed, but they tell little of how we are to love. There is no need to fret, though, for Jesus Christ gives us the directives for how we are to love. Love is defined by keeping the Law-Word of God; following His instructions in regards to good and evil:

If you love Me,” Jesus says, “you will keep My commandments” (John 14.10). Furthermore, the Holy One of Israel adds, “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (John 15.10). Jesus expresses to His followers that true love is one that is faithful to the Word of God, keen on the instruction God has given us for living, so that we may enjoy loves true expression. “Why,” you might ask? The answer is given to us by the apostle Paul:

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law [of God]” (Rom 13.10; bracket added for clarity).

Often times at weddings you will hear the recitation of 1 Corinthians 13. The reason for this is rather simple, it gives wonderful sounding words in defining biblical love. Contextually, Paul is speaking about the type of love that is to be given to fellow members of the body of Christ (ekklessia—from the Greek; the congregation or assembly of Jesus; often called the Church). However, given the nature of marriage—a covenantal institution ordained by God in the beginning; a gift given to a man and a woman who desire to share their lives with one another—it does seem appropriate that the love described there apply to marital union.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness [that is, sin], but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never fails…” (1Cor 13.4-8a; emphasis added).

Notice that in each expression love is defined as an action. True love is found in humility before God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. True love is God’s Law-Word at work in the life of a believer. This does not insinuate perfection on the part of the believer for reality proves that we all fall short and sin; first and foremost against our Maker, but also against our neighbor. In such cases the solution is to confess our wrong and seek forgiveness against the offended part. One final word by the apostle Paul is important for the soon to be newly wed couple to hear (as well as you in this audience).

In Ephesians 5 some words of wisdom are given to the married and the marrying. First Paul calls on the Christian to remember his or her position before their Lord God:

...Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5.1-2).

Then, Paul speaks to the married, and in our case this afternoon, the soon to be married:

Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are parts of His body. For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Eph 5.25-33).

Let me simplify this passage for you all, in particular for the two of you, for there is much that Paul says here. Paul is comparing the union of husband and wife with Christ Jesus and His bride, the Church. Just as the bride of Christ is called to submit and respect her Lord, so too is the wife to submit and respect her husband. Why? In the same way that Christ is the head of the Church, the husband is the head of his wife. Meaning what? That he is responsible for her. He is responsible for how he leads in the home, how he cares for his wife, how he protects her from all harm in the same way that Christ leads, cares for, and protects His Church. And if the husband performs his role as husband properly—a spiritual leader that is concerned with doing right and abstaining from wrong (although not perfectly)–then the wife needs to follow his lead, and in so doing she honors her Lord and Savior Jesus.

The husband is commanded to love his wife like Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus do this? He willingly laid down His life for His brides sake. So too then is the husband expected to willingly give of his life for the betterment of his wife. Just as we would never harm our own bodies, the same ought to be true of husbands and their wives. If the husband acts with such things in mind, then he too honors his Lord above.

Again we find that true love, when defined properly, is action. It is based on a faithful commitment to one another. Gabriel and Makalah this is the type of love you are expected to demonstrate to one another; before God and mankind. The same expression of love Christ demonstrated and is now demonstrating for those bonded to Him, is required of the two of you. If you love Christ, as you both have professed, then you will love each other as He commands.

Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. One that is not meant to be taken or entered into lightly. May the Lord of Glory bless your union on this day. And, may those in attendance be a help and not a hindrance to your new found life together.

Let us pray.